Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chicken Tagine

Chicken Tagine- Morocco’s second most popular dish after couscous and considered to be the national dish.

A tagine is the Moroccan equivalent of a stew, usually fragrant with spices and often piquant with olives or preserved lemon. The name also refers to the earthenware dish with a conical-shaped lid that the dish is usually cooked in.

I don't own a tagine so for the following recipe I just used a large oven proof dish. You can also use a dutch oven or pressure cooker too.

This recipe takes some time to prepare and cook but it's worth the wait especially when you can smell the wonderful aroma of the chicken tagine fill your house as it is cooking!

Serves 4


Chermoula Marinade
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2cm piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
½ preserved lemon, lightly rinsed and thinly sliced
2 onions, chopped
½ birds eye chilli
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, stems and leaves
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in a little water
½ cup olive oil
2 bay leaves, torn in half

4 chicken marylands or 1 whole chicken, size 10 or 12
1 tomato, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, cut into wedges
1 red onion, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
100g pitted green olives
8 large fresh medjool dates, halved and pitted
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1 cup water
1 preserved lemon, cut into 6 segments
Couscous, to serve


Marinade: Process all ingredients together in a food processor until finely chopped and thoroughly combined. Leave for 30 minutes before using. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

Wash and dry the chicken and remove backbone, wing tips and any excess fat. Cut into pieces. Prick chicken all over with a fork to allow marinade to penetrate. Rub all over with ½ of the chermoula marinade and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Combine the tomato and onion with a little more chermoula and spread into the base of the tajine (this will prevent the chicken from burning on the bottom).Arrange chicken pieces in the centre of the tajine on top of tomato mixture. Coat potato wedges with chermoula and arrange around chicken. Top with red onion slices, then tomato slices and olives and dates in between the potato wedges.

Mix chopped coriander with remaining chermoula and water. Pour over mixture. Decorate top with preserved lemon wedges.

Cover tajine with lid and cook on a very low gas heat for 45-60 minutes. Do not stir or lift the lid during the cooking process.

If using a large ovenproof dish, cover and place into a 200°C preheated oven and bake for 90 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve the Tajine directly to the table and impress your guests with a waft of fragrant steam when it’s time to serve.

To make cous cous:

Place 1 cup chicken stock into saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat. Stir and pour in 1 cup couscous. Cover and allow to stand for 3-5 minutes.

Stir with a fork to separate grains. Spoon couscous onto plates. Spoon over chicken and sauce. Serve hot and enjoy :)

Notes & Tips

Preserved lemons are conserved in salt, lemon juice and oil, and impart an extra tangy flavour to dishes. Buy them in sealed jars at delis and selected supermarkets.

A cheat's version of this recipe is to substitute 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind and 2 teaspoons lemon juice for the preserved lemon in this recipe.

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